The number of road fatalities in England and Wales has reached its highest level for nearly 15 years, according to new figures released by the Department for Transport.
The most recent statistics, which show a 37% increase in fatalities over the year ending August 2016, compared with the previous year, reveal a steady climb in fatalities since 2009 when deaths were at their lowest level since 1972.
The statistics also show that there have been four months with 2,000 or more fatalities, the highest number of any year on record. This includes the month of August, which saw 2,331 fatalities compared with the 1,985 in August 2015.
There were 1,875 deaths in July, 2015, according to the latest data released on Monday. The August figure represents an increase of 37% compared with the year ending July 2016.
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The figures also show a 1% drop in the number of vehicle and motorcycle accidents from 2015 to 2016.
The head of the UK road casualties and fatalities unit at the charity Brake, Paul Watters, said: “This is a dangerous time. We have been seeing alarming rises in road deaths and serious injuries for years and the numbers continue to soar at a time when thousands of people are on our roads every day.
“We cannot afford to wait another five years before the proportion of people killed or seriously injured in road crashes drops below the previous decade’s level. While some progress has been made, dangerous driver behaviour is still leaving far too many people in danger on our roads and a major overhaul of our roads are needed.”
Chris Powell, the general secretary of the RAC, said the most recent statistics were “another stark wake-up call” for the government.
He said: “Even as we end the tough austerity-era financial times, not enough is being done to improve the state of our nation’s roads.
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“Plans to freeze road tax from next year or give another £2bn cash injection to a funding pot that is not going to fill the gap have placed the onus solely on drivers to find more money to fund the 30,000 potholes a year that blight our roads.
“Local authorities are already challenged by funding issues, and many have put their road investment plans on hold as they desperately search for more money from other sources. It is a time for collective political and collective action.”
The Department for Transport said the trends were “largely linked to the years-long rise in the number of people walking, cycling and driving independently”.
The department said it was “strengthening road safety legislation by raising safety awareness, doubling penalty points and making disqualified driving a criminal offence”.
However, anti-fatalities campaigners have called for longer-term changes to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on Britain’s roads.
Survivors of road crash deaths argue that the government is failing to implement the recommendations of the Vulnerable Road User Review led by the Safer Roads Campaign.